Orphaned Wildlife

Learn what you can do

There is nothing more adorable than a baby animal.  They are so helpless aspring-baby-raccoonnd trusting of humans.

But orphaned animals are still wild animals!

They can grow up to be very self-reliant with the appropriate care.

As their babies grow, many animals leave their young for longer stretches of time.

As a result, well-meaning people mistakenly believe young animals left alone are orphans and inadvertently take them away from their parents.

PREVENT WILDLIFE KIDNAPPING – ALWAYS ASK A PROFESSIONAL prior to handling wildlife to make sure the baby animal is an orphan in need of care.

Contact NEWC Wildlife Hospital at (781) 682-4818 if you need wildlife assistance!  You can also contact your local animal control officer.

What do I do if I find…

Frequently Asked Questions About Orphaned Wildlife

Question: Can I take care of a baby animal?

Answer: It’s highly discouraged that an untrained person attempt to hand raise an orphaned wild animal without a wildlife rehabilitation license. Not only is it a bad idea, but it is also illegal. The guidelines for feeding orphans are NOT designed to raise an orphan to adulthood, but rather to sustain an orphan for a few days before he or she can go to a trained rehabilitator.

An orphaned wild animal should ALWAYS be taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center where it can be hand-raised by a trained professional, socialized with members of the same species, and ultimately released back into the wild.

Question: Is it OK to touch a baby animal if I am trying to help it?

Answer: ALWAYS ASK A PROFESSIONAL prior to handling wildlife to make sure the baby animal is an orphan in need of care.  Follow the professional’s instructions.  Very importantly, handling should only be done with leather gloves to prevent scratches.

Question: Will NEWC’s wildlife hospital take in the orphaned animal I found?

Answer: We try to provide care for as many animals as we can!  Sometimes we do reach our capacity to care for animals. We have a limited staff and operate mainly on a volunteer basis, and, unfortunately, cannot guarantee every orphaned animal a place in the hospital on any given day.

When we feel we cannot safely care for more animals, we recommend that wildlife go to other rehabilitators or to humanely euthanize them.  There are many wildlife rehabilitators located around the state that you can contact for assistance.

Question: I see baby rabbits everywhere in the spring.  They appear to be alone.  Are they orphans?

Answer: Actually, bunnies are rarely orphaned, and mom is usually hiding close by.  If you find baby bunnies, please read the House Rabbit Society’s Information page to learn more about the best things to do for them.  More often than not, you should leave them where they are and keep pets away.

Thank you for making a difference for wildlife!


Dr. Greg MertzOrphaned Wildlife